Given it is Sunday, feel free to get your Jesus on with The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Somebody say Amen.
Harlem Yodel. The Dandridge Sisters and the Cats and the Fiddle teach us how the yodel is done above 110th Street. [more inside]
As undeniably great as the golden age Motown studio musicians were, and as indisputably funky and creative as the arrangements were, you still have to think that maybe it would've been a good idea to release some of The Temptations amazing vocal group artistry in unaccompanied form. Maybe as B-sides or something. Well, that never happened back in the day, as far as I know, but we are extremely fortunate now to be able to hear a capella versions of many of the Tempts biggest hits, in stunningly impressive and thoroughly enjoyable unaccompanied renditions: Runaway Child Running Wild, Just My Imagination, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Ball of Confusion, Get Ready and Cloud Nine . And folks, there's more a capella from the Tempts and other Motown acts floating around on the Tubes out there, so feel free to link to them in the thread, cause, you know, I Ain't Too Proud To Beg.
Janelle Monae has been busy since the release of The Chase EP, the first of four "suites" that make up her genre-bending epic set in the distant future. She's been "discovered" by Diddy, continued to find inspiration in unexpected places, founded an artists' collective in her adopted hometown of Atlanta, and found time to speak to Vogue about her singular sense of style. Somewhere in there, she's also recorded the next two parts of the Metropolis Suite, titled The Archandroid (which is out today), put out a teaser for the album, and also the video for the first single, Tightrope. [more inside]
Bridge Over Troubled Water For a lot of years I've been listening to simon and garfunkle sing this song... I think I've finally found someone that does it better... Aretha...
"Open your minds, earthlings, and prepare to be launched headfirst into an alternate universe. A place where robots fall in love with humans. Where your tour guide into this alternate realm is a demure lil thang with a bold set of pipes. 'I'm an alien from outer space,' declares Janelle Monáe on the first song of her debut album, Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition). Yes, Toto, we are no longer in Kansas anymore. Or even planet Earth." [more inside]
Dennis Coffey was one of the most prolific Detroit session and solo guitarists. His revamped site features a couple phenomenal podcasts of his music and interviews.
The man behind the classic sound of Al Green, Memphis producer and soulmeister supreme Willie Mitchell has passed on. Many of the Al Green sides are legendary, of course, and very well known (as is the fantastic "I Can't Stand the Rain, by Ann Peebles), but be sure and head over to the excellent Funky 16 Corners where you can hear three of his lesser-known but deeply grooving productions. Fat stuff. So long, Willie Mitchell, and thanks for the wonderful music.
"Not to get all 'We Are the World,' but Kalakat shows how little difference there is between Iranians and people of any other country." 70s Funk and Soul in Iran
Here’s a cool concept. Top breakthrough bands of the day playing LIVE on TV late every Friday night. Such was The Midnight Special - from 1972 - 1981 (though the glory days were the early to mid 70s, that lost decade somewhere between the meltdown of the hippie dream and the coincident eruptions of PUNK + DISCO upon planet rock). [more inside]
Soul Train (wiki) has a youtube channel. Lots of great performances here, but in particular I recommend The O'Jays, Sly and The Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, The Stairsteps, and the Jackson 5. What really makes it worth watching though are the clips of the Soul Train Line dancing to hits of the day, artists like The O'Jay, Curtis Mayfield, War, and The JB's.
Timi Yuro, an Italian-American singer born in Chicago (where, the story goes, her nanny snuck her into clubs to watch singers like Dinah Washington and Mildred Bailey), was arguable the greatest blue-eyed soul artist of the '60s. [more inside]
"...A Fourth of July picnic, a Sunday Best church revival, an urban rock concert and a rural civil rights rally"
There was a historic music festival in the summer of 1969. But it's not the one that took place in Bethel, NY. The Harlem Cultural Festival ran from June 29 to August 24 that summer, presenting a concert every Sunday afternoon in Mount Morris Park (known today as Marcus Garvey Park). Three hundred thousand people turned out for the six free concerts, hearing acts like Nina Simone , Sly & the Family Stone (the only act to play both Woodstock and the "black Woodstock"), Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, The 5th Dimension, Moms Mabley and. Speakers included Jesse Jackson and "blue-eyed soul brother" Mayor John Lindsay. Security was courtesy of the Black Panthers, since the NYC police refused to provide it. Filmmaker Hal Tulchin recorded over 50 hours of concert footage, which has remained unreleased. Historic Films seems to hold the footage; it was supposed to be made into a movie to premiere at Sundance 2007, but its release seems to be continually delayed for reasons unclear. [more inside]
Sister Sue, tell me baby what are we gonna do. She said take two candles, and then you burn them out. Make a paper boat, light it and send it out, send it out now ... Willy DeVille (formerly William Dorsay), died of pancreatic cancer on August 6, at the age of 58. So much of his music evoked the languid heat of a city night. This might be a good evening to turn it up loud. [more inside]
Jackie Shane could rock the Sapphire Club. He was part of the Toronto Sound of the sixties, and made his mark not only for his soulful voice, but also for his flamboyent, gender ambiguous appearance (video). His song Any Other Way went to Number Two on the Canadian Billboard chart in 1963, and was his biggest hit. While his discography was short and he has faded into obscurity, he has been recognized by the queer community and music bloggers as a trail-blazing performer. In My Tenement, Comin Down, You Are My Sunshine, Stand Up Strait and Tall, Don't Play That Song.
Greil Marcus writes Real Life Top Ten for the Believer Magazine, in which he lists "anything that remotely has to do with music, a dress Bette Midler wore at an awards show or a great guitar solo in the middle of a song that otherwise wasn't very interesting." But he's been writing this column online for just about 10 years. [more inside]
Soul! New York City PBS affiliate WNET have digitized 9 episodes of Soul!, a early 1970's live music program, providing a groovy video interface with chapters to break down each hour long episode. [more inside]
Snooks Eaglin has died. One of New Orleans' most authentic and underrated guitar players won't be making his jazz fest gig this year. Next time you have some red beans & rice, take a moment to remember the guy who some called the human jukebox.
"A wildly flamboyant funk diva with few equals even three decades after her debut, Betty Davis combined the gritty emotional realism of Tina Turner, the futurist fashion sense of David Bowie, and the trendsetting flair of Miles Davis, her husband for a year. ... she turned Miles on to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone (providing the spark that led to his musical reinvention on In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew), then proved her own talents with a trio of sizzling mid-'70s solo LPs." - All Music Guide (many links nsfw-ish)
Dee Dee Warwick, sister of Dionne and a fine soul singer in her own right, recently passed on to that other shore. This blog entry on Dee Dee features mp3 links to her wonderful cover of the Elvis Presley hit Suspicious Minds and the heartrending She Didn't Know. More: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me, Monday Monday and Foolish Fool.
Legendary record man and music producer Jerry Wexler died on August 15, at the age of 91. His keen insight, and his deep love and appreciation for the artists he worked with resulted in an extraordinary enriching of American music. [more inside]
So, there was this little rock band from England, and they got pretty famous and all, so famous that they initiated the era of stadium concerts, back in '65, at a little place in Queens called Shea. But there was an opening act that night, led by a sax-blowin' fellow name of King Curtis, and he kicked total muhfukkin ass, and it wasn't even with his baddest band! You can hear them here. Jump Back! [more inside]
September 14, 1998 "the Tan Canary" passes away. He started out as a gospel singer but went on to perform blues, soul, county, and jazz. In 1968 he covered the country standard "Release Me" and it became a hit. His audience grew, but stardom outside of his home in New Orleans was not to be his. [more inside]
Amy Winehouse has Emphysema. The 24 year old artist, whose career has netted multiple awards but has often been overshadowed by her drug use, now faces a lung condition that can be slowed but never reversed, with effects ranging from shortness of breath to cyanosis and heart faliure.
Al Green sits in with Chicago (SLYT with a massive side order of awesome).
Regarding the 'Creole Beethoven' Wardell Quezergue, composer, arranger, big band leader, master of Second Line funk, who brought us Earl King's Trick Bag, the Dixie Cups' Iko Iko and Chapel of Love, King FLoyd's Groove Me, Baby, Jean Knight's Mr. Big Stuff to name but a few--not to mention A Creole Mass--and who, later in life, survived Katrina, to become, among other things of late, according to Home of the Groove's Quezergue Onstage and Behind The Scenes, a street performer in the French Quarter. His is a name that ought not be forgotten. [more inside]
When the discussion turns to 60s-era soul divas, the name of Bettye Swann isn't likely to be first on anyone's tongue. But she was possessed of a tender, supple and seductive voice, and she deserves to be heard and reconsidered. [more inside]
Proceeding Otis by two years and 364 days, Sam Cooke was shot and killed on this day in 1964. Much controversy still surrounds his death, but his legacy is untouchable and influence sweeping. From gospel to pop, he did it all. You Send Me, Ain't That Good News, Cupid, Chain Gang, and Bring it on Home to Me were some of his biggest hits and (along with Ray's work) the early foundations of soul; but it was one song, inspired by a white boy's passion, that gave a posthumous voice to a broken nation. Today and forever, Sam Cooke is yours, he'll never grow old.
Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha. Aretha.
HERSTORY is a YouTube playlist that details the history of women in Rock and Soul music over the course of 50 songs from 1958 to 1981.
4 Brothers Beats. This is a tribute to all the original music that built hip-hop – the best beats in soul, funk & jazz collected by four brothers. An amazing collection of out-of-print releases from the 70s and 80s.
His father was a minister in the Apostolic Church, but, after a series of arguments about his son's womanizing and heavy cocaine use he ended up shooting his own son down. The biggest of Motown's solo artists. Marvin Gaye often struggled with his brother-in-law, Berry Gordy over his desire to pursue different creative choices rather than following the tried and tested commercial formula. [more inside]
"If the truth was really known about the origins of Jazz, it would certainly never be mentioned in polite society." The expression arose sometime during the later nineteenth century in the better brothels of New Orleans, which provided music and dancing as well as sex. Jazz has been around for more than a hundred years now. It is not the result of choosing a tune, but an ideal that is created first in the mind, and willed in the music, inspired by A Passion for Jazz.
The author of the excellent (and previously mentioned) 60s/70s soul music blog Funky 16 Corners has put together an awesome compilation album available for free download, called Rubber Souled, featuring soul covers of Beatles classics; the results are intriguing, from Stevie Wonder's funked out version of We Can Work It Out to a nightmare inducing Bill Cosby cover of Sgt Peppers.
Hardly anything has been heard from Sly Stone since he disappeared in the early 80's. The August issue of Vanity Fair is to be the first published interview with Slyvester Stewart in about 25 years. Taking 7 pages and 12 years in the making, it covers his history and possible future. Very little has been written about this monumental band, but an authorized book is slated for 2009. (more inside)
In the early seventies, Northern Soul was divided between two great cathedrals. Wigan Casino got most of the attention, but the Blackpool Mecca attracted the purists, due to DJ Ian Levine's enormous collection of rare records. During the 80's, Levine went on to DJ at some of the major gay venues and became a notable Hi-Energy producer, but he always maintained his first love. Over the years, he has recorded and filmed many of the Northern icons, people who were ignored in their home country, but deeply loved in soul circles. These included Bob Brady, Frank Wilson, Tobi Lark, Bobby Paris, Lou Johnston, Tobi Legend and many, many more.
If you missed Elvis Perkins on Late Night with David Letterman making their national television debut, at least now you can say you knew about these guys before they really hit the big time (check out "Acoustic Slip Away"). I first heard about them on Lex and Terry. Warning, may be NSFW, youtube and audio links. Click at your own risk.
Remember Mingering Mike? Dori Hadar, the man who found the amazing Mingering Mike collection, has written a book about his odyssey. Here is the spiffy, fleshed-out Mingering Mike official site. And here's an interview with Hadar. [Previously 1, 2.]
Jackie Mittoo. Wayne McGhie and the Sounds Of Joy. Bob and Wisdom. The Mighty Pope. And many others. A free concert back in July and a series of reissues have begun to tell the story of the Toronto reggae, funk and soul scene of the 1950's, '60's and '70's.
Swamp Dogg (born Jerry Williams, Jr.), is one of the deepest of the deep soul singers. Described as “Wilson Pickett meets Frank Zappa in a bad mood,” and known for his dubious album covers, his association with the anti-Vietnam movement (allegedly) put him on Nixon’s enemies list. Swamp wrote or co-wrote hits for Gene Pitney, Johnny Paycheck, and a host of others. You might have heard his music in samples on tracks by Talib Kweli [mp3] and the Jurassic 5 [.wmv]. Long out of print, his 1970s albums are now available on CD.